This spot is dedicated to the world and how I see it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

24 May 2007

Why do we always enjoy things so much more when we know they are coming to an end?!
Je ne sais pas.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

22 May 2007

Well well. I am sometimes told off by friends that I am 'Miss Precautionary Principle' - always careful and sceptical, never really believing anything before I've seen it with my own eyes. Neither do I usually trust random peoples 'common sense' - yes, i would wash my hands before making myself a sandwich. But that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone would do the same though.

Being Miss Precautionary Principle can be annoying to some people in my surroundings. But as a recent BBC documentary clearly shows, I am certainly on the safer side being Miss PP, than being Miss Leave it to Chance.

TESCO has 20 million customers and Sainsury's 16 million customers, a week in the UK.
Staff (junior as well as managers) working for both supermarkets were spotted by an undercover reporter doing the following:

- Changing the best before dates, or re-packaging old products
- Mixing up old deli products with new in order to give it a tastier appearance
- Selling old deli products, judging they still are good because 'they don't have a bad smell'
- 'Rehydrating' old fish
- Using the same piece of plastic to cover (bloody) meat night after night
- Leaving deep frozen products to thaw for hours before unpacking the delivery
- Faking freezer temperatures
- Not changing the cleaning water with which they clean the counters and cutting boards

I am not surprised at all. One manager apparently said that they should treat every penny 'as if it was their own', knowing that they are judged by how much food they manage to sell - in reality meaning that no, or only little food, should be thrown away. No matter if it has seen much better days. Another manager claimed that 'it is impossible for them always to do their job properly'. Imagine if a pilot would say that!

Food poisoning is horrible, but I'm not very surprised by these practices. After all, most smaller shops which genuinely make their livelihood from selling good food, have had to close due to TESCO and Sainsbury's. 'The big two' know they will keep their customers. Even after the BBC documentary.

The story can be accessed here:

Sunday, May 20, 2007

20 May 2007

Today I was told that I think too much for my own good. And it was my own mother who told me, so there must be some kind of truth to the statement, bless her. This makes me wonder:

1. Is is wrong to think 'too much' at some points in your life?
2. Why do I think 'too much'?
3. Can thinking 'too much' have positive effects in the long run?

Yes, maybe I think much at this point of my life. What else are you supposed to do when your relationship of 3 years which you though would last forever, just has finished and you also just finished a job in a country and city (Brussels) which you have a love-hate relationship to?

Just pretend nothing has happened? Don't think so.

I am a positive person who tries to see the good aspect in everything, but I still have to confront existential and difficult questions: I guess I can't do anything against the fact that I am no longer in the relationship I used to be. The only thing I can do is to look forward and enjoy being single for a while. But being single is notoriously different to living in a relationship. As single, you only need to think about yourself, cook for yourself and plan your own days, especially weekends. The positive sides are that you have much more time for all those things you didn't have time to do in a relationship: like writing this, see girlfriends more often, go on innocent dates on Saturdays and go to bed early. Other positive aspects are that you have power over your own time and you feel empowered to do things you have not dared to do alone before - just because you have to as noone will do them for you, or with you.

Now, the tricky question for me is not how to be single. The 1 million Dollar question is to decide where I want ot live and of course, as with being in a relationship, there are disadvantages and advantages attached to every alternative! I know some people might think choice is a luxury problem. To some extent I agree, but since everyting is relative in this world this is NOT a luxury problem to me: it's not like choosing between a pair of Gucci or Ray Ban sunglasses (although I would choose the former), this is about making a choice between totally different lifestyles and to put it bluntly, lives.

My current alternatives are:

1. Stay in Brussels

+sides are: Having an interesting, stimulating and wellpaid job. Get my own cozy flat, be an 'international' and be exposed to very interesting lives and discussions, and get some really good professional experience in a very multicultural city. Some call it Europe's Capital.

-sides are: Being away from my family even longer, feeling detached from the sense of local community as Brussels is a transitory, temporary kind of place where you are bitterly aware that almost everyone you get to know will, eventually, move and your sphere of friends will be dissolved - and you will need to start over again in the next place. In that future new place most of the people your age will already have created their stable circle of friends. The older you get, the more difficult it gets to make good friends. People get busier with careers and children.

2. Go back to Sweden

+sides are: Being closer to my family and being able to see them for dinners on the weekends and, crucially, feeling part of something 'bigger'. I would also like to find out how it is to live in my own country as an adult.

-sides are: It seems more difficult to get a good job=opportunities lost? But the scariest thing to me is probably the insularity and relative homogenity of Sweden.

3. Do something very different for a while

+sides are: refreshing, learning something new and 'out of the box', getting a larger perspecive. When will you have this much time on your hands again in the future, if ever?

-sides are: Escapism? (Well, that is not necessarily bad!) Expensive? (Does not necessarily need to be expensive!) Delaying an important decision? (Well, what is a year, or so, in the bigger picture?) Making it more difficult to get back to the job-market? (Possibly)

Conclusions: Ok, I maybe think 'too much' but this is the result of having lived that last 10 years conciously making important decisions every year: I have become a very 'aware' person, carefully evaluating choices: and this is also the reason why I can say that I have had a very interesting life since I was 17. If I would have stayed at home I may have had stability, but I would also be a more narrow-minded person today.

My final conclusion is that it will take a while to find that place I can call MY home, but it will come. Maybe a bit later than sooner.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

20 May 2007
...can be beautiful, like this one in Pan Quotidien in Ghent.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


17 May 2007

Finally I went to see Das Leben der Anderen. East Berlin in the mid eighties.

Having lived in the eastern part of Germany myself six years after 'Die Wende', the film turned back time and reminded me of many stories that I have heard.

People escaping to the 'glorfied' West, sometimes passing Checkpoint Charlie hanging under their Trabis. Families being divided by the Wall. Families receiving parcels from relatives in the West filled with delicatessen. Families re-united after over 20 years on different sides. People informing STASI about their own families and friends.

It also reminded me of the ugly building next to my school in Brandenburg which used to be the local STASI office. The pillars of the fence which surround it were still there in 1996, but the offices had changed from accomodating spies to hosting a new computer company.

I was also reminded of my hostfather's nostalgia about Communism times: He used to be a driving instructor, but when the wall came down in November 1989, his qualifications were no longer recognised and he started working in a 'Tagebau' (an open mine) instead.

I also remembered our holiday 'im Westen' where we vistited my hostfamily's relatives and they sarcastically made fun of because '... you Ossis, you don't know how to drive, nor how to work'.

Finally, I remembered how I constantly was told that everyone used to be nicer to eachother during Communism, neighbours helped eachother and there was no competition about who had the nicest car. Even the ketchup used to be nicer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

13 May 2007

My greatest fear about moving back to Sweden is the attitude Swedes have about themselves, immigrants and the surrounding world. I can not stand Swedes who say that they are 'so happy to be Swedes because Sweden is such a great country'. Some view immigrants with great suspision and believe that everyone fights with everyone in 'all those countries in the Middle East or Africa'. It would not be a lie to claim that they look down on people who have not had the 'privilege' to be born in Sweden.

This is such a dangerous, unpleasant and ignorant attitude! Multiculturalism should, of course, be seen as a treasure which enriches homogenous societies. Living in a homogenous society, where everyone is blond and blue-eyed, would make me feel so isolated and bland!

I love my country, but there are also certain aspects I can not stand. For god's sake, the world is global these days and if Swedes continue thinking about immigrants as being so different because of their origin and colour, we will lose out, bigtime. Most of them also forget that Sweden used to be a very poor country with a 1/3 emigrating in the 19th century.

Swedish immigration policy has not worked, is not working and will not work only partly because of policies themselves, but the remaining part must be attributed to peoples' attitudes. Svensson, Persson, Johansson, please go and live in abroad for a while and see how it feels for yourselves to be a foreigner!

I always get into a good mood when I go to my local fruit and veggie provider: The old Moroccan man in his traditional clothing knows me and always smiles with his big (blue) eyes and says 'Bonjour mademoiselle, ca va?' Next time I will ask him about his life story-I am sure he will tell me interesting things about his berber life. And I hope he will invite me for some mint tea!

13 May 2007

Yesterday was a big disapointment. Dead is the happy Eurovision contest were we lightheartedly can sing along, well aware (and content) of the absence of deeper meaning in the lyrics. Yesterday's winner, Marija representing Serbia, sang a rather heavy song about religion and god ... and made me feel heavy hearted. That was not the point of the song, which was the peoples' big-time favoutite last night, but I was very disappointed.

It looks like we have entered a new period when it's no longer even political voting with determines the outcome (Sweden votes for Norway, Norway votes for Sweden, UK votes for Ireland, Ireland votes for UK, etc.) - but it's rather a voting behaviour based on demography: European migration patterns could clearly been identified in at least half of the national votes.

(West European) people are also talking about an East-West divide: Very few of the former countries of the 'East' voted for songs of the 'West', whereas 'western' countries did indeed vote for songs from the 'east'. Music tastes are different in 'East' and 'West' and this, together with the number of neighbours, also seemed to determine the result of yesterday's contest.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

11 May 2007

There are not many things which are more satisfting than a tasty dinner in good company, new or old. They make me feel complete - the good food satisfies my body and senses, it enters my veins and my brain, by blood and my lungs. Makes me feel invigorated. Good conversation and laughter make me feel part of something bigger, part of a universe where everyone belongs together. The outside world gets dazed and I see things from different angels and I can take a step back.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

10 May 2007

When I was about 19 my dad told me that he thought I had very nice friends. I agreed but did not think too much longer about this statement. It is great to have good friends, but seen from a wider, more holistic, perspective: Do the friends you have tell anything about who you are?

Some people tend to end up disappointed, and some do not. Why is that? Some girls always end up with the same kind of (wrong) guys, why is that?

Today Tony Blair announced that he will resign from his Prime Minister post. BBC's Europe Correspondent, Mark Mardell, looked at his period in office through looking at ... he PM's friends. And certainly, the theory that you can judge a politician by his friends, seems to work. (Access article here:

So if you do not like your friend's/girl/boyfriend's friends, what should you do? Should that be a warning sign of hidden sides? Does equal always attract equal? If equal always attracts equal, be aware!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

8 May 2007

Uncertainty, what would life be without it? We try to plan our days, years and entire lives. When something comes inbetween the plan and reality, we get irritated and anxious. This includes myself. After all, money is needed for rent and food.

As of next week I will be, as I like to view it, on 'sabbatical'. That is in sharp contrast to the last three months when I have been working as a policy consultant at one of Brussel's most known think tanks. Today I published my report, which directly feeds into the European Commission's policy proposals in a specific area (application of Community law).

However, as of next week, I am out of work.

But in the last month or so I have gotten used to that thought and it does not scare me any longer. In fact I like the thought of having time off. Time!! How often does it happen in your professional life that you have time to reflect about your next step? Once you are in there, earning your money, it seems very scary not to ... I have come to believe that 'sabbatical' can be a very special opportunity.

Of course timing is crucial. It is one thing if this time comes when you have a mortgage and children when there is no way you can survive without cash. It is another thing if this time comes as it does for me: I indeed need time and space to reflect over an indeed very central aspect: Where I want to live.

I am Swedish but have been living abroad since year 1999. I am starting to feel an urge to move back (at least for a while) to re-discover my own country and make up my mind if it is where I want to settle. And, in order to decide that, I need to go 'home' for a while to see how I feel about it. It could be such a big transformation and in order to have my full senses aware and present, it can not be rushed.

So, uncertainty does not necessarily mean that you are 'lost'. It can actually be just the opposite.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

1 May

Someone wrote these wise words above a shop window in Antwerp. They remind me of OMD's song 'Milky Way' which I listened to over and over again when I was an exchange student in Germany 10 years ago: 'Just remember who you are and where you've been, you've got this far...'
True. And very, very wise.